Osaka is undoubtedly the food capital of Japan. From the bustling street food stalls of Dotombori to one of the many Michelin star restaurants, you will not have any difficulty eating your way around this city.
With nearly nine million inhabitants, this former merchant town has blossomed into a vibrant and dynamic city. Osaka has so many interesting pockets to explore – your problem is having enough time to see them all!
My favourite of these “pockets” is Dotombori. Head to Namba Station – a huge hub where several subway lines meet – and head north along Ebisubashi-suji pedestrian mall. The mall itself is filled with a variety of shops and eateries and makes a great spot for a bit of people watching too!
Continuing along Ebisubashi-Suji you will reach the YokoboriRiver and the iconic Ebisubashi, or Ebisu Bridge. There’s been a bridge in this spot for 400 years, and for me I know I am in Osaka when I am standing on that bridge and soaking in this view…
This is place where Osakans have come since the late 18th century to stroll along the river of an evening, so make sure you do exactly that! The hardest decision you will have is deciding what to eat. The local specialties here are takoyaki (little round pancake balls fill octopus), okonomiyaki (large, thick, round pancakes filled with cabbage and your favourite ingredients), crab and fugu (puffer fish). I must admit I have not been game to try the fugu!!!
Head back one or two streets and you will uncover a number of little restaurants and places to eat – some of which are tiny hole-in-the-wall establishments that can seat only a handful of people. Finding an English menu may take a few goes but otherwise you can always try the “I’ll have what she’s having” approach and order based on what other people are eating!
I happened upon a little temple on one of these back streets with a row of restaurants running next to it. Okonomiyaki was on the menu – with a nama biiru (draft beer) to wash it down. Don’t be perturbed by the hot plate in the middle of the table – you are not expected to cook your own dinner! The hot plate keeps the okonomiyaki warm while you’re eating. There are some places where you can cook your own – but usually for foreigners they will just cook it for you.
So if you love your food, you really need a night or two in Osaka. Basing yourself in Namba means you have all of these great eateries on your doorstep.
x Sonia x